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chief, thou didst noddle thy ass's head, which had been put upon thee, well ; and didst seem to say, significantly, to thy new attendants, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed, “Gentlemen, I can present you equally to my friends, and to my enemies ! ”
All that was good in this piece (except the scenery) was Mr. Liston's Bottom, which was an admirable and judicious piece of acting. Mr. Conway was Theseus. Who would ever have taken this gentleman for the friend and companion of Hercules ? Miss Stephens played the part of Herinia, and sang several songs very delightfully, which, however, by no means assisted the progress or interest of the story. Miss Foote played Helena. She is a very sweet girl, and not at all a bad actress; yet did any one feel or even hear her address to Hermia ? To show how far asunder the closet and the stage are, we give it here once more entire :
Injurious Hermia ! most ungrateful maid !
? What Louis XVIII. said to his new National Guards. (W. H.) 2 " Have with our needles created both one flower.”
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
And will you rend our ancient love asunder,
In turning to Shakespeare to look for this passage, the book opened at the Midsummer Night's Dream, the title of which half gave us back our old feeling ; and in reading this one speech twice over, we have completely forgot all the noise we have heard and the sights we have seen. Poetry and the stage do not agree together. The attempt to reconcile them fails not only of effect, but of decorum. The ideal has no place upon the stage, which is a picture without perspective ; everything there is in the foreground. That which is merely an airy shape, a dream, a passing thought, immediately becomes an unmanageable reality. Where all is left to the imagination, every circumstance has an equal chance of being kept in mind, and tells according to the mixed impression of all that has been suggested. But the imagination cannot suffit ciently qualify the impressions of the senses. Any offence given to the eye is not to be got rid of by explanation. Thus Bottom's head in the play is a fantastic illusion, produced by magic spells : on the stage it is an ass's head, and nothing more; certainly a very strange costume for a gentleman to appear in. Fancy cannot be represented any more than a simile can be painted ; and it is as idle to attempt it as to personate Wall or Moonshine. Fairies are not incredible, but fairies six feet high
Monsters are not shocking, if they are seen at a
proper distance. When ghosts appear in midday, when apparitions stalk along Cheapside, then may the Midsummer Night's Dream be represented at Covent Garden or at Drury Lane ; for we hear that it is to be brought out there also, and that we have to undergo another crucifixion.
Mrs. Faucit played the part of Titania very well, but for one circumstance—that she is a woman. glimpse which we caught of the possibility of acting the imaginary scenes properly, was from the little girl who dances before the fairies (we do not know her name), which seemed to show that the whole might be carried off in the same manner-by a miracle.
"LOVE FOR LOVE."
Examiner, January 28, 1816. CONGREVE's comedy of Love for Love is, in wit and elegance, perhaps inferior to the Way of the World; but it is unquestionably the best-acting of all his plays. It abounds in dramatic situation, in incident, in variety of character. Still (such is the power of good writing) we prefer reading it in the closet, to seeing it on the stage. As it was acted the other night at Drury Lane Theatre, many of the finest traits of character were lost. Though Love for Love is much less a tissue of epigrams than his other plays, the author has not been able to keep his wit completely under. Jeremy is almost as witty and learned as his master. The part which had the greatest effect in the acting was Munden's Foresight. We hardly ever saw a richer or more powerful piece of comic acting. It was done to the life, and indeed somewhat over ; but the effect was irresistible. His look was planet-struck, his dress and appearance like one of the signs of the Zodiac taken down. We never saw anything more bewildered. Parsons, if we remember right, gave more imbecility, more of the doating garrulity of age, to the part, and blundered on with a less determined air of stupidity. Mr. Dowton did not make much of Sir Sampson Legend. He looked well, like a hale, hearty old gentleman, with a close bob-wig, and bronze complexion ; but that was all. We were very much amused with Mr. Harley's Tattle. His indifference in the scene where he breaks off his engagement with Miss Prue was very entertaining. In the scene in which he teaches her how to make love, he was less successful : he delivered his lessons to his fair disciple with the air of a person giving good advice, and did not seem to have a proper sense of his good fortune. “Desire to please, and you will infallibly please,” is an old maxim, and Mr. Harley is an instance of the truth of it. This actor is always in the best possible humour with himself and the audience. He is as happy as if he had jumped into the very part which he liked the best of all others. Mr. Rae, on the contrary, who played Valentine, apparently feels as little satisfaction as he communicates. He always acts with an air of injured excellence.
Mrs. Mardyn's Miss Prue was not one of her most successful characters. It was a little hard and coarse. It was not fond and yielding enough. Miss Prue is made of the most susceptible materials. She played the hoydening parts best, as where she cries out, " School's up, school's up !” and she knocked off Mr. Bartley's hat with great good-will. Mr. Bartley was Ben ; and we confess we think Miss Prue's distaste to him very natural. We cannot make up our minds to like this actor ; and yet we have no fault to find with him. For instance, he played the character of Ben very properly ; that is, just like " a great sea-porpoise.” There is an art of qualifying such a part in a manner to carry off its disagreeableness, which Mr. Bartley wants. Mrs. Harlowe's Mrs. Frail was excellent : she appeared to be the identical Mrs. Frail, with all her airs of mincing affectation, and want of principle. The character was seen quite in dishabille. The scene between her and her sister, Mrs. Foresight, about the discovery of the pin—“And pray, sister, where did you find that pin ? -was managed with as much coolness as anything of this sort that ever happened in real life. Mrs. Orger played Mrs. Foresight with much ease and natural propriety. She in general reposes too much on her person, and does not display all the animation of which the character is susceptible. She is also too much, in female parts, what the walking fine gentleman of the stage used to be in male. Mr. Barnard played Jeremy with a smart shrug in his shoulders, and the trusty air of a valet in his situation.
" MEASURE FOR MEASURE."
Examiner, February 11, 1816. In the “Lectures on Dramatic Literature by William Schlegel," the German translator of Shakespeare, is the following criticism on Measure for Measure, which has been just acted at Covent Garden Theatre :
“In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare was compelled, by the nature of the subject, to make his poetry more familiar with criminal justice than is usual with him. All kinds of proceedings connected with the subject, all sorts of active or passive persons, pass in review before us ; the hypocritical Lord Deputy, the compassionate Provost, and the hard-hearted Hangman ; a young man of quality who is to